First Sign of Spring? Look No Further Than Annual Nike Hoop Summit
Colorado Springs, Colo. • Feb. 20, 2012
Some people look to Groundhog Day for the first sign that winter is on its way out, provided the groundhog doesn’t see its shadow. Others wait for the day pitchers and catchers report to spring training. NCAA fans? They look to March Madness and the NCAA Final Four.
For those of us whose passion is international basketball, it’s the annual Nike Hoop Summit -- a game that features amazing plays, emerging international stars and the next wave of freshmen sensations -- that marks the beginning of a new season.
First contested in 1995 and behind future Olympic gold medalist and NBA All-Star Kevin Garnett, the Nike Hoop Summit has seen its share of stars leap onto the international stage. While it’s different from most USA Basketball and FIBA events in that it’s just a single game and the only award for winning is pride in your country, the game looms large on the international scene.
“It’s so important to go out there and get a win,” said 2012 NBA Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving, who posted 15 points and five assists in the USA’s come-from-behind 101-97 victory in 2010. “I think the Hoop Summit is a great experience for guys that are coming up and labeled as NBA Draft prospects, guys that are going to be the next ones coming into our league or who want to come into the league. But (they need to) know that in order to get a win, especially against those guys over there, they’ve been playing professionally for two or three years and they’re well ahead mentally and physically, you have to just learn how to give a piece of yourself for the betterment of the team, learn how to contribute, whether you’re on the court or off the court.”
The 2013 Nike Hoop Summit will be played at 4 p.m. (PDT) on Saturday, April 20 at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore. Tickets are now on sale, with reserved courtside seats for $25 and $50 and general admission $5 in advance and $10 on game day. Tickets are available through the Rose Quarter Ticket Office, by calling 877-789-ROSE (7673) or by visiting rosequarter.com or nikehoopsummit.com.
Featuring a U.S. team of high school seniors pitted against an international roster of 19-and-unders, the annual game, which is played under international rules, includes 140 alumni who have been drafted by NBA teams.
Since the first Hoop Summit in 1995, six alumni have been chosen No. 1 in the NBA Draft, and all told, 46 players have been selected among the first 10 draftees. Additionally, five players from the Hoop Summit have gone on to earn NBA Rookie of the Year honors, including Irving, Tyreke Evans (2010), Derrick Rose (2009), Kevin Durant (2008) and Elton Brand, who shared the honor in 2000.
In 2012, the first three picks were former U.S. Nike Hoop Summit players, including 2012 Olympic gold medalist Anthony Davis at No. 1 (New Orleans Hornets), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at No. 2 (Charlotte Bobcats) and Bradley Beal at No. 3 (Washington Wizards).
As of January 2013, 68 former USA players and 17 former World team members were active in the NBA, and 25 former Hoop Summit players are currently competing on the collegiate level, including 19 past U.S. players and six former World team athletes.
|A member of the 2006 USA Junior National Select Team, Kevin Durant went on to earn 2010 FIBA World Championship MVP honors and an Olympic gold medal in 2012.|
Not only does the U.S. all-time roster feature a who’s who of current and past NBA stars, in 1998 a young Dirk Nowitzki of Germany lit up the U.S. for 33 points, 13 rebounds and three steals en route to a 104-99 World Team victory. Two years later it was France’s Tony Parker’s turn in the limelight. He poured in 20 points and dished out seven steals and nearly stole the game, but the USA’s Zach Randolph’s 24-point, 8-rebound performance helped the Americans to a 98-97 win.
“I expect the World Team will have a lot of guys who can shoot, and people who are very skilled at different positions,” said Julius Randle (Prestonwood Christian Academy/ McKinney, Texas), who was on the 2012 USA U18 National Team and who will compete in the 2013 Hoop Summit. “Big guys who can really stretch the floor, who are mobile and can shoot the long ball.”
Nowitzki’s 33 points stood as the game’s scoring record until a young Turk named Enes Kanter, who went on the be drafted No. 3 in 2011, poured in 34 points in the 2010 contest. However, that record stood just two years as the USA’s Shabazz Muhammad went off for 35 points in 2012.
Muhammad’s record-setting performance was not enough for the win, however, as the U.S. squad fell 84-75 to the World Team.
“It’s not just an all-star game,” emphasized Jrue Holiday of the 76ers, who played in the 2008 Nike Hoop Summit and returned to scrimmage against the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team as a member of the USA Basketball Select Team. “Especially the Hoop Summit game, that was a good way to play against people outside of your culture, to interact with them on the court. Obviously, starting there (within USA Basketball), then you might get to do it at another level, at the highest level. Playing on the (2012 USA) Select Team, playing against them, it was an awesome to experience.”
In all, the U.S. owns an 11-4 advantage over the World Team in the previous 15 Nike Hoop Summits (the event was not held from 2001-03), but is just 2-2 over the last four Hoop Summits.
Each team has its advantages and disadvantages from the start, which helps to level the playing field.
|Duke freshman Rasheed Sulaimon played in the 2012 Nike Hoop Summit and returned later in the summer to help the 2012 USA U18 National Team collect gold at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship.|
While the World Team members are familiar with the FIBA rules and many have competed professionally in their home country, it’s often the first time USA team members step onto the court to compete within the framework of the international style of play. So, while the Americans have no language barrier like the internationals do, USA Basketball athletes must pick up the subtle nuances with only two days of practice before the game tips.
Canada’s Andrew Wiggins, a high school phenom who plays at Huntington Prep in West Virginia, scored a World Team-best 20 points in the 2012 Nike Hoop Summit. Wiggins could very well return for a second stint on the World Team, which is expected to be announced in March.
This year the U.S. squad will again be filled with rising stars, four of whom have the advantage of international experience as Aaron Gordon (Archbishop Mitty H.S./San Jose, Calif.), Rondaé Hollis-Jefferson (Chester H.S./Chester, Pa.), Jabari Parker (Simeon Career Academy/Chicago, Ill.) and Randle each have won medals playing for USA Basketball. Gordon and Parker teamed up on the 2011 USA U16 National Team that captured gold at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship, Parker collected a second gold medal at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship, Hollis-Jefferson earned a silver medal at the 2012 FIBA U18 3x3 World Championship and also competed on the 2011 USA 3x3 U18 squad, while Randle helped the 2012 USA U18 National Team earn gold at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship.
“Don’t take (the World Team) for granted,” current Duke freshman Rasheed Sulaimon advises this year’s team. “Last year I think a lot of guys took it for granted. I believe we were better than (the World) Team, but we lost. You never want to be on the losing column, especially when you’re representing the United States. So, don’t take it for granted. Respect your opponent and play as hard as you can. Like I said, it’s not about any individual fame. It’s all about winning for the United States.”
|Zach Randolph played on three USA Basketball teams. He started with the 1999 USA Youth Development Festival before competing in the 2000 Nike Hoop Summit and later that year he won a silver medal with the USA U20 National Team.|
Coached by 2011-12 USA Developmental National Team assistant Mike Jones of DeMatha Catholic High School (Md.), the 2012 U.S. roster also features 2012 USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team Training Camp participants Aaron and Andrew Harrison (Travis H.S./Richmond, Texas), as well as USA Basketball newcomers Kasey Hill (Montverde Academy/Eustis, Fla.), Demetrius Jackson (Marian H.S./Mishawaka, Ind.), Bobby Portis (Hall H.S./Little Rock, Ark.) and Noah Vonleh (New Hampton School, N.H./Haverhill, Mass.).
Assisting Jones on the U.S. sideline will be former NBA player and University of Virginia star Cory Alexander (Boo Williams AAU, Va.), who played on three USA Basketball teams. He earned a gold medal with the USA at the 1993 FIBA U21 World Championship, a silver medal at the 1992 FIBA Americas U20 Championship and a bronze medal with the South Team at the 1991 U.S. Olympic Festival.
Given that four of the U.S. team members own international experience and the familiarity they have for one another -- all of them have played together or against each at one time or another in the summers -- USA Basketball is hoping those two facts, along with their raw talent and the internationally-experienced coaching staff, will help the team return from the 2013 Nike Hoop Summit with a victory.
That would certainly be a great start for another summer of international competition for USA Basketball.
“Enjoy it,” was 12-year NBA veteran Randolph’s advice for this year’s team. “It was a fun time, getting to play with all the best players around the country and competing against all the foreign players. Just enjoy it and take it in for what it’s worth. Go out there and give your best and play hard because the whole world will be watching.”